Micromanaging Boss? How to Push Back Politely

Last Updated Jan 18, 2011 9:10 AM EST

Micromanaging bosses are a common complaint in the business world and even more of a problem for career starters with little experience. Sure, your boss might think he's providing invaluable training and guidance to the office newbie, but with the big cheese hovering around all the time, you hardly feel like you can get in stride and perform at your peak. Plus, it's insulting that he thinks you need babysitting in order to get the job done properly. But you can't just tell him to go away, can you?

Perhaps expressing your aggravation to your boss isn't a good option, but their are constructive ways to push back and give yourself some space to work at your own pace, according to blog Escape Velocity. The post, written by Chris Garrett, says you should first attempt to get inside the micromanaging boss's mind and see the situation from his perspective. When bosses are being intrusive, Garrett notes, usually,
There is no sense of manipulation or malice behind things, they just do what makes sense at the time. Intentional or not, it makes you uneasy and uncomfortable when it is happening to you. I have been caught out a lot lately by what Pace and Kyeli brilliantly call the Usual Error. This is both as the person making the error and on the receiving end.
The usual error is essentially thinking the other person likes the same things you do, believes the same thing you do, or behaves how you do.
In other words, your boss (or anyone hassling you to work on their time table actually) probably isn't trying to be a jerk, they just think you want their anxious attentions as much as much as they want to provide them. Rather than stew in annoyance, Garrett suggests setting the record straight through three easy steps:
  • Make sure they're aware of your feelings, especially if you feel under pressure.
  • Set deadlines you can all actually keep without breaking under the strain.
  • Aprise them of your progress.
This plan sounds entirely sensible. Forget focusing on negative emotions, and simply work out a plan that serves both your boss's and your needs (after all your happiness and productivity is in your boss's best interest too, right?). But if all this sounds too simple and you'd like a more in-depth discussion of what's bound to be a sensitive conversation, as well as tips on tone and wording, check out BNET's video with executive coach Caty Everett explaining how to deal with a micromanager.
(Image courtesy of Flickr user qnr, CC 2.0)
  • Jessica Stillman On Twitter»

    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.

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